A dental bridge is used to fill the space created by a missing tooth or teeth. A space or spaces between your teeth can cause your teeth to shift resulting in a change in your bite. Dental bridges help alleviate this problem by replacing missing teeth and thus eliminating changes in your bite due to unwanted tooth movement. Crowns are placed over the teeth on either side of the missing tooth space. A pontic (false tooth) is fused between the two crowns to replace the missing tooth. Dental bridges are permanently bonded to the teeth and patients learn how to clean under the pontic tooth using dental floss.
Types of dental bridges
There are three types of dental bridges that are commonly used today
1. Traditional fixed bridge - This is the most common type of dental bridge in which crowns are placed over the two teeth at either end of the space to be filled. The crowns anchor the bridge to your teeth and hold the pontic (false tooth) in place. Traditional fixed bridges are made using metals like gold, porcelain or a combination of both.
2. Cantilever bridge – A cantilever bridge is used when teeth are present on only one side of the space created by the missing teeth. These are used typically in areas of your mouth that do not experience an intense chewing load.
3. Resin-bonded bridge - In a resin-bonded bridge, metal or porcelain extensions are bonded to the teeth on either side of the space to be filled. The pontic (false tooth) is held in the space by the metal or porcelain extensions. This type of bridge is typically used in areas of the mouth that undergo less stress and is most commonly used to replace a missing upper or lower front tooth.
How it's done
A minimum of two visits are required for placing a dental bridge. At the first visit, three important steps are completed. Firstly, the surrounding teeth are prepared to be fitted for crowns. This requires preparing (reshaping) the teeth on either side of the space to be filled. Secondly, an impression is taken of your teeth which will be sent to a dental laboratory along with a detailed lab perscription to make the bridge. Finally, a temporary bridge will be placed to protect the prepared (reshaped) teeth and to hold your teeth in position for the permanent bridge.
At the second visit, the temporary bridge is removed and the new bridge received from the laboratory is fitted and adjusted. Multiple visits may be necessary to check and adjust the fit before the bridge is permanently bonded to the teeth on either side of the space to be filled.